By Andrew Blum*

Welcome to the new world of brand publishing. Want to promote your company, a client or yourself? With the advent of content marketing (also known as native ads) you can do it. And it’s on the increase.

PR and ad agencies, companies, professional services firms, media outlets and of course vendors are increasingly getting into the mix. Instead of calling something an advertorial, today’s creators use native ads to brand a company or even sell you a software product to create your own content.

One new development is an announcement by the Federal Trade Commission, which held an all-day hearing about native ads in late 2013. In its recent announcement, the FTC issued guidance on what native ads should look like and said it might go after offenders.

Nonetheless, along with social media and apps, content marketing will continue to be a “new” media flavor. With the plethora of parties all in this space now, content marketing will have to be an arrow in everyone’s PR quiver.

It remains to be seen if the FTC will be toothless on enforcement or if PR agencies or other creators and users of native ads will work on tightening things up. Or perhaps this will be like the New York Bar rules on law firms and advertising, under which they have to say in small point type when something might constitute law firm advertising. (In that instance there wasn’t much enforcement or impact.)

Whatever happens, I don’t see the content phenomenon slowing down any time soon.

*Andrew Blum is a PR consultant and media trainer and principal of AJB Communications. He has directed PR for professional services and financial services firms, NGOs, agencies and other clients. As a PR executive, and formerly as a journalist, he has been involved on both sides of the media aisle in some of the most media intensive crises of the past 25 years. Contact him at ajbcomms@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter: @ajbcomms.

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